In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

380 Comparative Drama that it can be made-that is, that genre can be discussed apart from politics and vice versa. Yet the contributor of at least one essay would dispute that assumption at the outset.· In ''The Politics of Golden Age Tragicomedy," Walter Cohen develops a detailed argument about Spanish tragicomedy within the broad neo-Marxist framework that he outlines in Drama of a Nation. Whether one agrees with Cohen or not, one can see that his position is necessarily at odds with the way Maguire has divided the essays. Some acknowledgment of this and other disagreements would come closer to making the collection coherent. This is not to say that coherence is defined by agreement ·butrather that when contributors disagree (as they often do) they would give us a more helpful book if they clarified the lines of conflict and actually responded to each other. Maguire's conception of the political context for tragicomedy is psychological (she alludes to Freud), while Cohen's is economic and social (he alludes to Marx). Yet no acknowledgment of this difference is ever made, and problems of indefinition and inexactitude regarding tragicomedy are therefore not only not resolved; they are actually compounded. Closely related to the question whether genre and politics can be legitimately separated is the question whether genre can be defined apart from a particular historical context. John Shawcrossargues that it can, in the volume's first essay, "The Generic Context: Tragicomedy as Genre, Past and Present." Here again, however, deep differences are apparent but unacknowledged. Most. of this book's contributors im.,. plicitly disagree with Shawcross by focusing on the seventeenth century, when the term 'tragicomedy' was much used and discussed and putative examples were produced. Indeed, in one of the volume's most helpful observations, Barbara Mowat points out that 'tragicomedy' had three separate but related meanings by. the early sevent!!enth century in England (pp. 81-82). If other contributors had noted Mowat's point they might have appeared less to be talking past each other,. but in any case Mowat's specificity moves in the opposite direction from Shawcross's generality, though the difference is nowhere acknowledged. To these problems of substance can be added problems of form. To reduce repetitive citation, Maguire made the admirable editorial decision to list six of the most frequently cited works at the beginning of the volume. However, surprisingly omitted (both here and in the index) is Bernard Weinberg's A History of Literary CrIticism in the Italian Ren.,. aissance, which meticulously chronicles the controversy surrounding Guarini's 11 Pastor Fido. Weinberg's work is in fact alluded to nine times in the text and notes, in contrast to Alistair Fowler's Kinds oj Literature, which is listed in the .''Works Frequently Cited" and has only five citations in the index, and Marvin Herrick's Tragicomedy, which has just six citations in the index. When Maguire herself alludes to Guarini's "extended quarrel with DeNores" (p. 5), she refers the reader to two other essays in this collection, not to Weinberg (p. 9, n. 7). While the cross reference is helpful, the implicit undervaluing of Weinberg reduces the value of this book's contribution to tragicomedy. No one can cite exhaUitively, of course, even in a collection whose focus is as narrow as this one, but only once did I find the .kind of Reviews 381 exemplary note provided by Vema Foster in her essay on "Ford's Experiments in Tragicomedy." In her second note (p. 110) she lists five books "that I have found especially helpful," thus supplying useful cross references and a short bibliography for anyone who might wish to pursue the subject further. On the other hand, I noted some omissions . Though I found Mimi Still Dixon's essay, ''Tragicomic Recognitions : Medieval Miracles and Shakespearean Romance," insightful and fresh in its ideas, I looked in vain for references to Howard Felperin's Shakespearean Romance, which covers the same ground. Nor does Dixon acknowledge J. M. Manly's early essay, "The Miracle Play in Medieval England," or R. G. Hunter's Shakespeare and the Comedy of Forgiveness , on which Felperin himself depends. In .another important and helpful essay...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 381-383
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.